Anyone who escapes into the world of a TV show, book, or movie knows how easy it can be to lose yourself in an alternate reality. The Girl in the Midnight Gown from Blue Fox Comics simply takes the idea a step further by showing the cost of staying outside your own time and space for too long. Darby is gone, but it is not an outside antagonist preventing her from returning home but her love of the narrative that has sucked her in thoroughly. It’s a lovely way to take exterior conflict and beautifully invert it in a way that both reveals deep love for imagination-based escapism and cautions against hiding from life within it. Ultimately, the story teaches that we should embrace flights of fancy, because they can bring us gifts of adventure, acceptance, forgiveness, joy, etc., but don’t forget to live life, as well.
My description of the plot of The Girl in the Midnight Gown is very vague, because the beauty is how the story unfolds. One touch I especially appreciated is that Darby and Lela’s family is portrayed as people of color; their ethnicity is not defined, but they are clearly not white. So many fantasy epics focus on white men that this gently inserted representation (It doesn’t affect the story; it just is.) gave me a great deal of joy. I also enjoyed the diversity of the heroes at Abe’s; women were equally as represented as men, and while each adventurer represented an archetype, they came from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Abe’s clearly was meant to be a crossroad between all worlds where anyone could find the adventurer that fit their story.
The artwork for The Girl with the Midnight Gown reflects the otherworldly feel of the imagination. It’s not photo perfect, but it’s how someone might describe what they saw in a dream. The number of different adventurers portrayed in Abe’s is incredible, and there are some panels in Faerie where the sheer number of tropes must have been a lot of work to draw!
Overall, The Girl with the Midnight Gown left me with a soft feeling of contentment and warmth. Acceptance, family, love, and adventure flow throughout the entire piece, including the short illustrated story in the final pages. It’s not the type of graphic novel to pick up if you’re expecting swords, sorcery, and swashbuckling, but it tapped into the essence of some of the old fairy tales my father and grandmother read to me as a child and has a way of feeling both engaging and comforting.
4 Tiny Knit Dragons out of 5